Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

See other formats

ran to Marib, the capital of the Sabaean kingdom, and
thence by way of Mecca and Petra to Gaza. A glance at
the map will show how Mecca, which lay about half-way
between the Hadramaut and Petra, must have benefited
by this land commerce, and explain why it became a
centre of population and a resort of merchants.
The importance of this trade is shown in the book of
Ezekiel, in which the prophet refers as follows to the
riches of Tyre :1 cc Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar,
they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats:
in these were they thy merchants. The merchants of
Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they
occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with
all precious stones, and gold. Haran, and Canneh, and
Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad,
were thy merchants.''
This quotation from a Jewish prophet, who is known
to haye been sent into captivity by the orders of Nebu-
chadnezzar in 599 B.C., sufficiently attests the ancient im-
portance of this trade, and it is of special interest to find
that Aden, the Eden of Ezekiel, was known by the same
name more than two thousand years before it was annexed
by Great Britain, It was probably in the first century of
the Christian era that the Indian trade began to pass by
water through the Bab-ul-Mandeb and up the Red Sea,
with the result that the caravan routes were gradually
deserted and the erstwhile titriving cities dwindled and
The Ancient Religion of the Arabs.ŚMuir, our great
authority,2 believes that the religious rites practised at
Mecca can be traced to the Yemen, of which district its
earliest inhabitants were probably natives. They brought
with them the system of Sabeanism, which implied belief
in one God coupled with worship of the heavenly bodies.
To-day the survivors of the sect, many of whom live in
the neighbourhood of Basra and Mohamera, are mis-
named " Christians of St. John the Baptist" by travellers,
although they speak qf themselves as Mandeans. They
1 Chap, xxvii, a 1-23.
a T have not gone into the sources of the biography of Mohamed, but would refer
the student to chap. i. of Muir's work.